Lenox Lounge Closes

A small club in New York, which has had its doors open since World War II and holds the ghosts of jazz history, is expected to shutter Dec. 31.

The Lenox Lounge has been sold to Richard Notar because longtime owner Alvin Reed can no longer afford the lease, according to the New York Times. Notar is a managing partner of the Nobu restaurant chain, which hosts celebrity clientele across the New York area.

The Lenox Lounge opened in Harlem in 1942. Billie Holiday was known to have a table there, and it was a favorite hangout of writer James Baldwin. Meanwhile, the sounds of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and John Coltraine filled the room.

“It shouldn’t be closing,” a Bronx resident told the Times. “It’s a landmark. We have so many memories here.”

The closing can actually be considered a sign of economic growth. This area of Harlem has been repopulated with popular restaurants like Chez Lucienne, Corner Social and the Red Rooster, which has served former president Bill Clinton. Property values are on the rise and Reed said the lease is $20,000 a month.

Reed told the paper he is considering keeping the venue’s name and converting the space into a watering hole where local musicians and big-name performers can continue to play their instruments.

“I know it’s a very tightt-knit community and very proud of what’s happening up there,” Notar told the paper. “And I have to bring my A game, or I’ll ride the A train.”